Before you start:
- For a day before you start with the actual practice, observe the way that you breathe in different situations throughout the day. Note your breath when you are relaxed with no worries. Feel what it is like when you are agitated or angry. Observe how you breathe when you are fresh in the morning and when you are tired after a hard day’s work at night.
- Choose a quiet place. The best place would be amidst nature. However, do not worry if you cannot find such a place. A reasonably quiet place with good ventilation is sufficient.
- Sit in the full lotus position or if you can not then start practicing in the half lotus position. The lotus position is a very stable position and prevents you from toppling over when you achieve full concentration. You can place your hands on your knees or on the lap.
- You can choose to keep your eyes open or closed.
- You can practice this breathing exercise at any time of the day that you find convenient. However, to reap maximum benefits try to maintain a particular time for the practice.
The actual steps:
- Calm down your mind as much as you can and focus on your breath.
- Follow the route of your breath carefully. Imagine that it is starting at the tip of the nose. It goes through the chest and ultimately ends at the navel. While coming out it starts at the navel and travels through the chest before ending at the tip of the nose.
- Try to find out the qualities of your breaths. Are you breathing regularly? Are your exhalations and inhalations of the same length? Do you hold your breath for varying amounts of time while breathing in or out?
- Now try to control the different aspects of your breathing.
- Start by controlling the length of your inhalation and exhalation. You can do this by counting while you breathe in and then counting to the same value while you breathe out. Remember to count at the same pace.
- Once you have achieved a moderately equal length of inhalation and exhalation you can proceed toward making your breathing long and smooth.
- By now you must have noticed as part of your observing the breath that you tend to have short and shallow breaths when you are angry or agitated. Also you have realized that you have a longer and smoother breathing when you are calm and collected.
- Now consciously try to make your breath longer and smoother. You can do this by increasing the count up to 10 when you breathe in and the same when you breathe out.
- Notice the change that the longer and smoother breaths bring about in your mind. You will be feeling calm and at peace.
- Now, keeping the breath long and smooth try to reach perfect concentration. You can use the following technique:
- After following the route of your breath, find the point which is farthest on the route. It would be somewhere on the tip of your nose. If you cannot find it just make a few forced exhalations and you will be able to find it easily.
- Create simple image at that point. It could be any heavenly body, or a mantra, or any other symbol that you like.
- Now, simply focus on that image. Make your mind absolutely still and collected. However, if the mind wanders off do not resist it. Observe the wandering of the mind and then bring it back to the image that you have created. Though initially the mind may wander off frequently, after practicing for a few days you will be able to keep your mind focused on the image for a considerable period of time.
Stay focused for as long as you want to. Then slowly bring your mind back to the observation of the breath. Follow your breath again for some time.
Now, gradually bring your awareness back to the outside world.